Thursday, September 8, 2011

ANOTHER GOOD NEWS: USCIS says sole owners can self-petition for H-1B

In an effort to "promote startup enterprises and spur job creation," USCIS has announced that "entrepreneurs with an ownership stake in their own companies, including sole employees, may be able to establish the necessary employer-employee relationship to obtain an H1-B visa, if they can demonstrate that the company has the independent right to control their employment."

USCIS clarified this issue somewhat in its FAQs on a recently updated guidance memorandum:

  • Q: The memorandum provides an example of when a beneficiary, who is the sole owner of the petitioner, would not establish a valid employer-employee relationship. Are there any examples of when a beneficiary, who is the sole owner of the petitioner, may be able to establish a valid employer-employee relationship?
  • A.   Yes. In footnotes 9 and 10 of the memorandum, USCIS indicates that while a corporation may be a separate legal entity from its stockholders or sole owner, it may be difficult for that corporation to establish the requisite employer-employee relationship for purposes of an H-1B petition.  However, if the facts show that there is a right to control by the petitioner over the employment of the beneficiary, then a valid employer-employee relationship may be established. For example, if the petitioner provides evidence that there is a separate Board of Directors which has the ability to hire, fire, pay, supervise or otherwise control the beneficiary, the petitioner may be able to establish an employer-employee relationship with the beneficiary.

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